Looking for professional development in gender awareness?

Salem Kim Hicks, Kyoto Women’s University


GALE is very excited to be involved in organizing the upcoming Sixth International Gender and Language Conference (IGALA6) that will be held from 18-20 September at Tsuda College (Kodaira Campus), Tokyo, Japan. IGALA is an international interdisciplinary organization that is committed to the promotion and support of research on language, gender, and sexuality. IGALA6, as the conference is known, hopes to highlight a wide range of topics such as language and gender in the Asia-Pacific area; negotiating multicultural/multilingual places/spaces; queer(y)ing language and education; responding to change(s) in language education; as well as gender, language, and international development. Along with a variety of presentations and workshops by educators and researchers from around the world, GALE has organized several enlightening panels for the conference on topics including art, adolescent identity, professionalism, and media.

This year’s keynote speakers are Momoko Nakamura from Kanto Gakuin University in Yokohama and Ingrid Piller from the Faculty of Human Sciences at Macquarie University. Momoko Nakamura has written numerous articles, translated books on gender and language, and is presently researching a historical analysis of Japanese women’s language. She is currently redefining women’s language as a language ideology historically constructed by metalinguistic discourses. She is also editing a Japanese textbook on language and gender, Learning Linguistics from Gender, which was published this March. Ingrid Piller is an applied sociolinguist whose research interests centre around gender in language learning in the context of globalization and migration, as well as cross-cultural communication and consumer discourse.

Deborah Cameron, a Rupert Murdoch professor of Language and Communication at Oxford University, will be giving a special lecture as part of the 110th anniversary events for Tsuda College during the conference. The title is “Sex on the brain: Language, sex/gender, and the new biologism.” This presentation will examine the recent popularity of explanatory stories about language and male/female differences which make use of evolutionary science and/or neuroscience to argue that feminists were wrong: The linguistic behaviour of men and women is a matter of biological sex rather than socially constructed gender. As well as considering how far the evidence of linguistic research supports this claim, she will question what explains the resurgence of biologism in both expert and popular discourse on sex/gender.

In order to get a sense of what kind of conference IGALA6 may be, here are a few comments from JALT members who have previously attended:

If the upcoming IGALA conference is anything like the three I have attended in the past, then attendees will not be disappointed. For gender and language scholars, this gathering of acclaimed theorists and practitioners in the field could be compared to an ashram of people on a path to further enlightenment. For novice researchers, the inspiring plenaries, lively discussions, and wealth of literature provided onsite will help generate ideas for papers and presentations in the making. And for the curious, you will find yourself wanting to learn more. See you there!Andrea Simon-Maeda

IGALA conferences have a wonderful mix of nationalities and a very broad academic scope; you can hear about mainstream research into gender and language as well as getting a chance to explore cutting edge theory on the body and queer(y)ing language education. No matter what your take on gender issues and language, I think you’ll find something challenging in Tokyo this September.Robert O’Mochian

IGALA5 was an incredible experience. So many good memories I hardly know where to begin. A chance to meet authors of books I’ve read and textbooks I’ve used. And you know something funny, one of the best things was not only getting to meet people from faraway places but getting to know people from right here in Japan that I’d never had a chance to connect with before.

Gerry Yokota

I felt IGALA5 (New Zealand) to be one of the most unique conferences I have ever attended. Not only academic in format, it also showcased a variety of special events of a cultural and artistic nature both within the conference venue and in the community in an atmosphere of openness and timeliness. IGALA6 promises similar surprises.Laurel Kamada

This conference will surely captivate your intellect as well as challenge you professionally and personally in a very holistic way. After all, it is our responsibility as educators to be aware of affective factors in education and the one that is most pervasive is undoubtedly gender. For the exact schedule for our event, scheduled for 18-20 September, go to the IGALA6 website <orc.tsuda.ac.jp/IGALA/ocs/> or contact GALE at <www.gale-sig.org/>.

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